The hottest young conductor on American TV

The hottest young conductor on American TV


norman lebrecht

January 05, 2016

Opening the year on NBC’s Today program was Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, ‘the lightining baton  from Lithuania’. Mirga is one of three Dudamel associate conductors at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

‘Am I one of the luckiest guys on the planet to watch this?’ cries NBC’s Harry Smith. Watch the segment here.

Or here.

We’ll be hearing a lot more of Mirga before the month is out.

Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla


  • John says:

    Lebrecht’s final sentence is because this is the woman lined up to take over the CBSO.

    • Halldor says:

      Not “lined up”, exactly – but under serious consideration by the players of the orchestra. As is at least one other young-ish conductor. Nothing is decided at present.

      • John says:

        I hope so. The video and her ‘conducting’ is an embarrassment.

        • Halldor says:

          The CBSO musicians (who have previously identified the potential of the current chief conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic, BBC Symphony and Boston Symphony) have actually played under her direction. I think I’ll defer to their judgment.

          • John says:

            The CBSO musicians are in difficult times right now. They can hardly be compared to the orchestra five or ten years ago, say. Christopher Morley wrote an article on the situation not too long ago: you might enjoy reading it (unless you already have).

    • Halldor says:

      Seriously: did you actually hear their “Parsifal”? Their Beethoven 9 at the Proms? Their recent Mendelssohn discs under Gardner? They’re in superb shape as an ensemble, arguably playing at a higher standard than under Rattle – which is exactly what Chris’s article (which was actually expressing valid concerns about the interregnum between music directors, with no reflection on the standard of the orchestra) said. You’re right however, that his views are always worth taking seriously: you’ll doubtless be familiar with what he said about Ms Grazinyte-Tyla here:

      But in any case, that’s irrelevant to the question in hand: they can certainly be compared to the orchestra 5 or 10 years ago because in most cases they’re exactly the same people. Player turnover in the CBSO is low. Many of the musicians who’ll be forming an opinion on this conductor were playing in the orchestra when it appointed Rattle. Still more were directly involved in hiring Oramo and Nelsons. They know what they’re talking about and their track record in identifying young conducting talent is unparalleled. Though of course nothing is decided yet, whatever anyone says.

  • RW2013 says:

    Mr. Smith must be deprived of a lot to consider himself “one of the luckiest…”.
    My dilemma is to puke or yawn.

  • Peter says:

    I’m torn between primal screaming and puking.
    NBC’s Harry Smith is an idiot, and the headline above another drop in the ocean of professional prostitution and sheer hostility to the art form, in which classical music is about to die. The rats can swim, the art can not. The end.

    • Patrick Schönbach says:

      That’s the point. There is no problem with being a lively person as a conductor, think of Lenny. But, If that is all you have to offer, it is way too less. It looks great, but it is not deep at all.

  • Greg says:

    Someone very lively and lacking musical depth is an assistant to Dudamel? Shocking.

  • Student says:

    Liveliness and looking good need not exclude musical depth. I know Mirga and she is anything but shallow. And how much “depth” is a young twenty-something conductor required to show before she’s written off by sarcastic arm-chair blog conductors? If Harry likes to salivate, that’s his problem and doesn’t reflect on her.

    • Auditor says:

      There is no way to know about real musical personality because, like all the over-hyped “stars” of our time, she conducts at the level I play the violin. Oh, and I am not an armchair conductor but a professional with over 30 years experience. When I started no one of discernment had any interest in conductors under 50 because it’s a slow burn. Now real knowledge is not optional, it is positively damaging to chances of success. Very sad situation because the result is the music sounds boring and I cannot imagine why anyone buys tickets for concerts of our supposedly great orchestras. And of course people with ears do walk away.

      • Peter says:

        They do walk away, but where can they go?

      • Ellingtonia says:

        “Oh, and I am not an armchair conductor but a professional with over 30 years experience”…….yes, but a professional what, and 30 years experience of what? You sound like one of those people who say “I have been doing this 25 years………..” when what they mean is I have been doing the same thing for 25 years without movement of development.
        Wisdom and quality is not the prerogative of the “old”
        Let us hear what this young woman can do, allow for mistakes and misjudgements but accept that there will be tremendous enthusiasm, a keen musical understanding and a capacity to communicate her ideas to both orchestra and audience.
        The miserable old buggers can sod off………………

        • Peter says:

          “Wisdom and quality is not the prerogative of the “old””

          Actually, particularly in the conducting profession, it most of the time is. Wisdom comes with experience and that comes with time. but to understand that one needs to have it.

          “Let us hear what this young woman can do”
          Absolutely, let’s hear, but the TV format was not suitable for that. It only showed, that’s how that format works, the most superficial aspects of her.

          I only hope, that that young woman does find enough counter forces, that actually allow her to focus on her musical growth. The game is not in her favor, actually the game is not in favor of any musician.

        • Katherine says:

          agreed – well said!

    • Patrick says:

      Thank you, Student. You are wise.

  • Ken Nielsen says:

    Gee, we have a cranky and uncharitable lot here today.

  • RW2013 says:

    Wasn’t sure what “hot” meant…

    I. One who is:

    a. gorgeous
    b. pretty
    c. beautiful
    d. cute
    e. attractive

    II. One who you would:

    a. lick
    b. suck
    c. nibble
    d. flirt with
    e. have sexual relations with

    III. One who makes you:

    a. flip
    b. crazy
    c. nutty
    d. pass out
    e. drool
    f. fantasize
    g. (if girl) wet
    h. (if guy) hard

    The intern in my history class is such a(HOT chick)hottie I get (if chick)wet / (if guy)hard just looking at her.

  • Rick says:

    I look forward to watching this young woman’s conducting career flourish. She has a bright future. The real embarrassment is Harry Smith. We Americans have had to suffer him long enough. It’s not surprising NBC hired him. When NBC wants to appear cultured they go to him so the audience forgets about the constant nonsense they usually put on the air. This story was a nice break from tradition of NBC segments about Halloween decorations, dog grooming, celebrity fluff interviews and a round table discussion of what’s “trending.”

  • Peter says:

    “The HOTTEST YOUNG conductor” is nominated.

    What are the other nominations in the categories:

    -COOLEST YOUNG conductor

    -HOTTEST OLD conductor

    -COOLEST OLD conductor

    and also what is the specialist price for
    -best conductor MUSICIAN

    (only the blind, sorry, the visually challenged, may vote)

    Mr. Lebrecht, please investigate!

    Ms. Gražinytė-Tyla (tough name for making it to a granite stone on Hollywood’s walk of fame), if you have such journalist-friends, you don’t need enemies. Good luck. May the force of music be with you.

  • Halldor says:

    Being lectured on the qualities that make a great conductor, by people who form judgments on conductors based on a 2-minute TV promo clip..


  • Truth Detector says:

    She is the real deal. A diamond in a sea of clowns.

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